Time for some mindless ranting! (birds will have to wait, mostly because of my laziness)
Well, okay, I’m not sure if the title reflects absolute truth, but that’s just MY personal, probably pretty unscientific, impression. I just think that for every Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman or Albert Einstein, there’s at least one maniac who has won that joke that is the Templeton prize, or something like that. Seriously, look at the wiki page: of all the scientists who won that templetonic piece of garbage, one is a biologist and NINE are physicists or astrophysicists. Some of them are credited as “physicist and philosopher”, which reflects a thing I had noticed here in Italy, but that maybe is common in other parts of the world too. I’ve known a lot of people who said that they couldn’t decide if they wanted to study physics or philosophy. Uh, what? Why not acting vs neurobiology, then? I failed to see what was the link between these two disciplines, that caused so many people to be attracted to both. Then someone explained to me that many people sees them both as a mean to explain the world, and this notion cracked me up. No offense to philosophers, but every one of them that came after Epicurus is either wrong or redundant. My old teacher of philosophy, a very intelligent man, would probably shoot me in the face if he ever read this, but the fact is that often philosophy is used as an easy way to pretend you understand the world and to confuse the reader into thinking you’re smart, when you’re just using empty words. Physics is a real science, grounded in reality, facts and logic, which can really explain the world on many levels. It’s much harder, and I can understand that people doesnt usually find it as attractive as philosophy (I’m not particularly interested in physics myself, and I’ll admit I often find it frustrating), but if you honestly want to learn what’s the universe, and you have the requisites, it’s a much wiser choice than philosophy. Now, the revelation that many people who study physics had also considered philosophy as a valid alternative to reach the same goal (understanding the world) greatly undermines their credibility to my eyes: they are hunting some kind of romantic, spiritual purpose or cause to everything instead of looking at the facts and logic alone, and thus they are prone to faith-based bullshit.
Of course, most physicists are not people of this kind (I hope, at least), and of course people of this kind are not found exclusively among physicists; and yet, this kind of morons seems to spawn extremely well in the world of physics. This problem has catastrophic results if it couples with a widely-spread trait of physicists: they tend to be very proud. Sometimes, they are even arrogant, I’d dare to say. Since physics is the base of chemistry, and chemistry is the base of biology, they tend to think they’re superior to such mundane disciplines (and now, time to boast: actually, I think they got it backwards – biology is the study of the most complex phenomenon known to man, life; physics studies the most basic and banal phenomena in the universe, by comparison). Technically, this would make math superior in the gerarchy, since it’s even more basic and physics is based on it, but awesome Feynman dismissed it by amusingly but prickishly saying “Physics is to mathematics as sex is to masturbation”. So yeah, physicists are somehow convinced they’re somehow the best scientists ever – I’m not condemning them for this, as I can be pretty arrogant myself, and I think that arrogance is not necessairly a despicable trait in someone who is actually capable, as many physicists are. What I mean is that, when the arrogant nature of physicists is coupled with the romantic and unscientific view of the world typical of the morons I described above, we get a monster: a person who feels entitled to pontificate about everything because not only they feel like great scientists, but they also think they’re experts of spirituality – and spirituality is everywhere, am I rite?
This sometimes causest clashes with the world of biology, because many spiritual people are of course interested in man, which is a living being, and god, which is supposedly also a living being who created all the other living beings – and you know, living beings are the subject matter of biology, which is based on this thing called “evolution” which rejects any forms of creationism and intelligent design. One would think that a biologist is more qualified to talk about life than a physicist, but those guys (the dumb “spiritual” ones, not all of the physicists) don’t agree and can’t help but point out how Darwin’s theory is “unscientific”. Yeah, sure, whatever. An italian example of this bullshit is the douchebag in the photo, Antonio Zichichi, which is a paladin of irreducible complexity, and is also apparently convinced that evolution is not a scientific theory since there’s not a mathematical formula to describe it yet. Which is kind of amazing, because not only he seems to forget the overwhelming evidence for evolution (science is based not only on logic, my dear Antonio, but also facts – if facts contradict your logic it usually means your logic is flawed), but he also seems to ignore that something (in this case, evolution by natural selection) can be logically accurate even if it hasn’t a math formula describing it yet. By the way, I have no doubt that there’s a still undiscovered uber-complex algorytm that somehow describes everything in evolution; as every good BIOLOGIST knows, however, evolution is basically a synonym for “biology”; now, if all of biology needs to be explained by a single equation to be considered scientific, then all of the other sciences need to be explained by single equations too. Do we know the universal equation that explains everything in chemistry (or in physics, for that matter)? No. Does it mean that they’re not sciences? No. It just means our knowledge is still incomplete (and that’s why we need science – to expand our knowledge). Every discipline has its wide set of formulas, and biology too has many math formulas explaining its various aspects – and thus the various aspects of evolution. Also, Antonio, I don’t see you proposing an equation to explain the god you so firmly believe created and guided the evolution of life. So next time, Toni, just stick to what you know best, and leave the rest to the pros.
NOTE: If any physicist feels offended by something I wrote here, please don’t take all of this too seriously. I recognize it’s a probably poorly written generalization; its content is just the impression I got from various experiences in my life, and I don’t pretend it’s certainly something objective. I also reitarate that my rants are of course directed only at a minority of morons, not at physicists in general. You can also, if you will, attribute my rage to a bad experience I had with a truly ferocious and incompetent physics professor I had during my first year of university. Peace out.